KNOXVILLE, Tenn., September 8, 2021 – The Innov865 Alliance places Knoxville at the forefront of innovation by showcasing six of East Tennessee’s most investable startups at the annual Startup Day event, which is part of Innov865 Week. The “Shark Tank” style pitch competition will take place at the Mill and Mine on Oct. 5 at 2 p.m. featuring local entrepreneur’s cutting edge ventures as they vie for up to $10,000 in cash prizes. 

Knoxville continues to enhance its robust entrepreneurial ecosystem to create an epicenter of development and commerce. Each of the finalists work within the frontlines of Knoxville’s contemporary scene with pitches that range from nanomaterials to accounting software. 

Startup Day is free and open to the public to encourage investors, locals, aspiring and established entrepreneurs to attend.

“Our annual Startup Day is meant to serve as a catalyst within the community, inspiring local entrepreneurs to invest in themselves and Knoxville’s prosperity,” said Grady Vanderhoofven, President and CEO of Three Roots Capital and Innov865 Alliance founding member. “Innovation is a critical component in our lives. We are proud to commemorate the many trailblazers who established Knoxville’s foundation, as well as the entrepreneurs who have sprouted from that fertile soil.” 

Startup Day’s pitch competition requires the finalists to pitch in front of a panel of expert judges for a chance to win up to $10,000 in cash prizes. Finalists have the opportunity to win two prizes: the Innov865 Judges’ Choice prize and the Innov865 Crowd Favorite prize, presented by Truist

The event will also feature the Impact Award, presented by Verizon, to a Knoxville entrepreneur who has made the greatest impact in their industry and community.

The Innov865 Alliance thoughtfully selected six finalists who exemplify extraordinary professional and technological promise. They are: 

Endeavor Composites – startup offering exclusive UT licensed technology that implements an innovative mixer system for the hydroentanglement process. The innovation evolved around the ability to disperse long carbon fiber to produce, in a continuous scale, defect free non-woven mats and performs with excellent quality control.

President: Hicham Ghossein

Sentinel Devices – a next-generation anomaly detection platform for industrial control systems. These devices allow any customer to build up a detailed, component-level knowledge base of the behavior of their plant, and they do this without incurring any additional cybersecurity risk. From initial installation to final shutdown, the device serves as a silent watchdog, keeping an eye on what matters so that the customers can accomplish their mission.

CEO and Technical Lead: Forrest Shriver

Summit Performance – Summit Performance Testing is a new company that uses PCT pending technology to measure the performance, playability, and safety of sports surfaces; while, simultaneously measuring the forces on the body during athlete to surface interactions. This technology/device is also able to test the traction, safety, and durability of different shoes for all purposes including sports, work boots, orthopedics, etc.

Co-Owner: John Sorochan

SkyNano – patent-pending technology that utilizes a low cost manufacturing technique of high value carbon materials, using only inexpensive materials, electricity, and carbon dioxide as direct inputs. Relying on electrochemistry, SkyNano’s technique results in a highly efficient process to convert atmospheric carbon dioxide into useful nanomaterials. 

Co-Founder: Anna Douglas 

Uncat – a web app used by accountants and bookkeepers to fix pesky uncategorized transactions with their clients and sync with QuickBooks Online.

Co-Founder and CEO: Brandon Bruce

CQ Insights  CQ Insights is a startup healthcare data consulting firm that assesses the value of any drug, divide or diagnostic tool as it relates to the patient care process using Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI). 

Founder: Bruce Ramshaw

Startup Day is Innov865 Week’s signature event, it is free and open to the public; doors will open at 1:30pm. Tickets are available now online. Due to limited capacity, please register as soon as possible to reserve your spot. Learn more about Innov865 Week and other events taking place by visiting The events calendar will be updated as events are added. 

The safety of our attendees, pitchers and speakers is of great importance to the Innov865 Alliance. In light of the COVID-19 Delta variant, the Innov865 Alliance will be limiting the number of RSVPs at Startup Day 2021 to allow for social distancing and requiring masks. More details will follow closer to the time of the event.


Innov865 Week is a weeklong celebration of Knoxville’s entrepreneurial spirit that brings together startups, entrepreneurs, makers, investors, business leaders, students, and community leaders from across East Tennessee for a week of educational panels, pitch competitions, investor roundtables, and social events. It is presented by the Innov865 Alliance, a coalition that develops, supports, and promotes the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Founding members of the Innov865 Alliance include the University of Tennessee Research Foundation, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, PYA, UT’s Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Three Roots Capital, Tennessee Valley Authority, Launch Tennessee, Knoxville Chamber, Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, UT Research Park at Cherokee Farm, the City of Knoxville and Bunker Labs Knoxville. To learn more, visit